By Jacob Kornhauser on March 10, 2014
There's no doubt, the Cubs are in the thick of an extensive rebuild right now, but 2014 presents a light at the end of the tunnel. This is an important season for the Cubs as it represents the bridge between futility and contention. The Cubs will need several players to step up this season and these are five players that could be indicative of the team's current and future success.
Coming off of a career season in 2013, Travis Wood needs to prove that he can consistently perform at a high level. Basically he needs to prove that 2013 is the norm and not the exception. He has a promising career ahead of him and if he can duplicate his performance from 2013 or at least come close, he should surely be in the Cubs' future plans.
After coming over to the Cubs from the Orioles last season, Strop was lights out from the bullpen. He will most likely be the team's set-up man this season and is a potential closer of the future. With the responsibility that is placed on members in the back end of the bullpen come great expectations as well. Strop is one of the two building blocks for the team's bullpen going forward and he needs to sustain success in 2014.
As the Cubs' highest paid player, Edwin Jackson simply needs to perform better than he did a year ago when he lost the most games in the National League and almost had an ERA of 5.00. He has the ability to work deep into ball games and he showed flashes with a couple of stellar performances a year ago and he will have to show more of them in 2014. As the bridge in the rotation, he could ultimately determine their success or failure in 2014.
Coming off of the worst season in his baseball life, Castro will be a man on a mission this season. Whether that mission is successful remains to be seen, but Castro must improve from his numbers last season. With his natural ability to get base hits, he seems like a good candidate for a bounce-back year. Management will feel much better about their potentially stacked infield moving forward if Castro can bounce back this season.
2013 was classified as a disappointing season for Anthony Rizzo even though he led the team in home runs, RBI and OBP. Mostly, his low average was the cause of concern and his power numbers dropped off after the first couple months of the season. With natural power from the left side of the plate and playing at Wrigley Field half the time, Rizzo is a serious candidate to hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 in 2014 and beyond, however.
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